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Haley Hamrick

Teaching Children to Share with the World!

I can hardly remember the last time I opened up my Facebook without seeing an album entitled “missions trip”. Those Facebook albums filled with heart wrenching candids of malnourished children and families lined up outside of their straw-roofed houses gnaw at my heart and make me whisper a prayer of thanks, but does that change anything? Do my feelings and prayers of thankfulness change the reality of the lives those people in third-world countries are living in?

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The harsh answer is no, they do not. Still, I’m reminded that those heartbreaking feelings and prayers of thankfulness are the first step in fulfilling one of God’s greatest desires for our lives as followers of Him.

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It all starts with learning to share. As adults, we try to nurture this generous spirit when we ask our children to share Skittles with their sister, toy trucks with the neighbor, and a few bites of their ice cream with mommy. Teaching generosity and sharing is almost like teaching a habit, and the art of sharing takes practice before it can really become a part of our children’s lives. Even still, this “sharing is caring” spirit is limited to a small inner circle of people – neighbors, cousins, classmates, and so on. Sharing with the whole world, though? What does the Bible say about this? Can we make a difference in the lives of people we only see pictures of on the internet? The short answer is yes, and God’s Word has a lot to say about this resounding yes!

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Time and time again, God’s Word presents us with parables and stories of the simple practice of sharing our time, money, resources, and the Gospel. In Luke 10, the story is told of the Good Samaritan, a man who goes out of his way to rescue a Jew who has been robbed and beaten. Matthew 10:46 says that there is a reward for those who give even a cup of water to someone in need! Psalm 96:3 says that we should “declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all people.” Mark 16:15 says to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…” Luke 12:48 says that God expects those who have been blessed with more to give more! God’s Word says we can make a difference by simply obeying His call to give; we can change the world through our sharing spirits!

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Here are some easy ideas to get your children motivated towards sharing with the world:

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SAVE PENNIES: Consider buying a family penny bank specifically for missions. Those pennies add up, and before you know it, your whole family will have contributed to the work of a missionary in a foreign country!

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HAVE A DONATION PARTY:

Spend one whole Saturday rounding up some old clothes, toys, etc. that could be donated to a church that is in need of donations for an upcoming missions trips. Make it into a “party” by inviting neighborhood children to be involved.

ADDRESS AN ENVELOPE:

There are many organizations that allow you to sponsor a child in a foreign country. Let your child take this opportunity to learn the art of snail mail, address an envelope, and gain a pen pal!

 

READ ABOUT IT:

Taking the time to read both Bible verses about giving (Phil. 2:4, Deut. 15:10, Proverbs 22:9) and stories about real-life missionaries, both past and present, will excite and inspire both you and your children!
EXERCISE THE POWER OF PRAYER:

If your home church has missionaries that they support, consider making a list of a few that you can pray for with your child. This would be an exciting addition to your child’s bedtime ritual, and will develop in them a caring spirit.

A Not So Cozy Camping Trip: A Bedtime Story

What’s better than a cozy camping trip?! Eating gooey, roasted marshmallows by a warm campfire, looking at the beautiful night sky with its bright stars, and sleeping in a big, comfy tent with your friends or family – it’s the best! Now, I need you to imagine a different type of camping trip. This is no ordinary camping trip. It’s kind of a scary camping trip! And on this camping trip, you aren’t an ordinary boy or girl – you’re a shepherd! Ready?! Here’s how the story goes…

There you are, a shepherd in an open field, sleeping with your head on a rock for a pillow and itchy grass as your sleeping bag. You have no tent and no campfire. It’s almost completely silent and completely dark outside. All you can hear is the sound of your sheep “baaing” and one of your shepherd friends snoring! All you can see is the clear, black sky overhead with its tiny white stars.

You’re about to fall asleep when all of the sudden, you hear something. “Is it a lion?” you think to yourself. “Or a bear?” Your heart starts racing as you remember the stories of King David as a shepherd boy, fighting off lions and bears to protect his flock of sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-35). You grab your slingshot and search for a stone in the long grass. Your hands start shaking as you yell out to your shepherd friends to wake up! You hear the same sound again, and realize….the sound is coming from up above. The sound is coming from the sky!!

Let’s stop our story right here and have the Bible finish this story for us because guess what – this is almost exactly what the shepherds in the story of Jesus’ birth experienced! Let’s pick up our story in Luke 2 and see what could possibly be in the clear, black sky above them….

“Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:8-14

Phew! The sound coming from the sky was just an angel. No need to be scared right?! But wouldn’t you still be a little scared – even once you realized the sound coming from above was an angel? That’s probably why the angels told the shepherds to not be afraid. They could tell the shepherds were scared, but they knew they had good news to share! Jesus had been born, and God wanted the shepherds to know! Why? Because he knew the shepherds would tell everyone they knew about Jesus and His birth! Let’s finish our story in Luke.

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This Christmas season, let’s be like the shepherds! Even though we might be scared or afraid, God wants to use us to tell others about the gift of His Son – Jesus!

The Season of Supermoms

If ever there was a season that required being a supermom, it would be the Christmas season. There are Christmas cookies to be baked, gingerbread houses to be decorated, stockings to be stuffed, presents to be wrapped, and a whole house to be decorated – inside and out! Our usual to-do lists triple in size and the thought of having a moment to ourselves becomes more and more laughable as our laundry piles gets higher and our kitchens become messier. There’s so much to do, and December only has so many days!

Before we get carried away with what the world’s “supermom” looks like, let’s take a look at the Bible’s version of a “supermom.” Her name is Mary, and God chose her to be the earthly mother of His only Son. Read Luke 2:26-35, and let Mary’s example shape and encourage us as moms.

Luke 2:26-35

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Mary was delivered the most inconceivable news she could ever imagine. She felt disturbed and confused (vs. 29). She felt doubtful (vs. 34). But she had a choice. She could choose to strive and struggle, plan and prepare, or she could choose to rest and believe in God’s promises. Her choice was clear: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 2:38

This Christmas season, let Mary’s example remind us that the world’s standard of a supermom isn’t God’s standard of a supermom. Let us simply choose to believe what God says about us, trust that God will do what He says, and know God, deeply. And when the kitchen won’t clean itself and the Christmas tree topples over, remember that God chose you for motherhood, and he will give you everything you need for accomplishing His will (Hebrews 13:21).

Mary’s Song of Praise:

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A Night in Bethlehem

Looking for a new, meaningful family Christmas tradition? Wondering how you can make this Christmas Eve more than just a night for putting Santa’s cookies and milk by the fireplace? Start a tradition they’ll never forget, and throw an authentic Bethlehem dinner party! Below is a step-by-step outline for turning this festive night into a tradition that lasts year after year, and what better way to immerse your family in the true meaning of Christmas than with “a night in Bethlehem!?”

a-night-in-bethlehem_internal-copyStep 1: Invite your Family!

What’s a party without an official invitation from Caesar Augustus himself? Present your family with a handwritten “royal decree” summoning them to the little town of Bethlehem. Complete with “Where, When, and What to Bring” section, be as creative as you like.

 Step 2: Create Bethlehem!

Making this dinner party as authentic as possible means no electricity! Light some candles and drape some sheets or blankets high above or around the table and replace chairs with pillows to give the room a tent-like feel. You may even want to have some instrumental music playing softly in the background. Nothing says “a night in Bethlehem” more than the sound of quiet harp music set to the sound of classic Christmas songs.

Step 3: Make the Menu!a-night-in-bethlehem_internal

            Now that you have created an atmosphere of Bethlehem, make your dinner party taste like
Bethlehem. Skip the Christmas cookies and eggnog, and only feast on what Mary and Joseph would have eaten during this time. Some ideas include chicken or fish, pita bread, honey, olives, grape juice, dates, and cheese to name a few!

 

Step 4: Let the Party Begin!

Once the invitations have been delivered, Bethlehem has been created, and the menu has been made, the party can begin! Start the night by reading Luke 2:1-7.

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(You might want to take a moment to reflect on the details of this passage. For example, explain how Mary and Joseph were summoned by Caesar Augustus, just like their invitations said! Consider how far they would have had to travel and what they might have been thinking or feeling during their long journey.) Gathered round your beautiful, Bethlehem feast, say a prayer, thanking God for the gift of His Son and the gift of the joyful, Christmas season. While the true meaning of Christmas might get more and more distorted, let this new family tradition bring your family back to the Bible – back to a little town called Bethlehem!